Conference Paper (Apr. 13)

Apparently its March already.
This means I have less than a month to finish researching and writing my first conference paper of the year.

The abstract was submitted months ago and I did start my research in between submission and viva but prepping for viva and doing corrections have completely distracted me from actually fleshing out this paper – an especially annoying scenario since I am determined that it will form the basis of something to be submitted for publication. I really want to get some of my work actually out into the world and can’t keep going over the thesis material even if I do publish it eventually..So tonight as a way of treating myself for doing lots of work on the thesis I am going to go back over some of my research and find some more material. I am also going to commit over the course of this week to making a skeleton slide outline to work round.

Key thoughts:

  • Susan Cooper uses Classical knowledge to signify education and to a lesser extent superiority.
  • Section on Romans in Britain emphasises series themes of displacement, duty and connection to one’s land
  • Contrast practical/factual/educational Classics with mythic/emotional Celtic & Saxon imagery
  • Is this a recognisable trend in children’s fantasy?
  • Is this a trend in 50s/60s/70s lit.?

Gonna do me some real research.. gonna enjoy it!

April Notes & Updates

  • Wrote (more than 12 hrs before the panel started) and delivered my conference paper without imploding. Woop!
  • damn damn damn – still haven’t completed my pesky first chapter- ruddy thing
  • Happy Birthday B!  – I’m glad we spent some time away together. Sea air and your arms – thankyou
  • Well done all. A trip home and no public meltdowns. We were very brave.
  • Dear Gods above, what on earth am I going to give my wife for our 3rd anniversary? Excited and delighted but a little perplexed.
  • We have beautiful pear blossom, tiny onions and enthusiastic tomatoes. Even the potato plants are sprouting. Hurrah for rain.
  • Gave my beer talk – didn’t freeze in front of people I have to speak to regularly. Surprised and pleased.
  • Waiting for physio for my knee/ waiting for miraculous improvement – how am I supposed to lose weight without walking?
  • Trying to decide what the next step on my head-fixing plan is – explorative psychotherapy, ACT, drugs or none of the above? Maybe I am shiny? Maybe I am terrified.
  • Beer Festival eek nearly that time again..
  • oooo Holiday planning!

Worlds Colliding – A Classical Ideal & Me

I have spent the end of last week at the conference that I have been “preparing” for the last few months and I have been reminded of a few home truths about both myself and academia.

In myself, there are two key things that it is useful to be reminded of – firstly that I am not, and probably never will be, a naturally social creature and secondly that I am not an ambitious or driven individual.
These two points have a profound impact on my experience of conferences and academia in general and contribute to a growing realisation that my lack of engagement with the institutions is not only a protection mechanism to deal with my fear of failure and sense of dread at potential rejection (good ol’ get out before they get you down) but also something intrinsic to my personality that actively sets me apart from ‘successful’ academics.

A conference, I have been repeatedly reminded by research advisors, is a networking opportunity. This is a chance to become known and to have your research become known. To in short demonstrate your publishability and ultimately your employability.
I suck at networking
I cannot without supreme effort of will and/or alcohol walk up to a complete stranger and say “Hi, delighted to meet you. I’m interested in x, how about you?” Every fibre of my being rebels against the notion of inserting myself in other people’s conversation. No amount of certainty that others battle with the same issue and that such an artificial environment requires that course of action compels me to make the move and I am frozen, hovering, silent and awkward on the fringe. I hope that some kindly don will take pity on me or that I will see a familiar face to whom I can at least comment on the paper I heard them give but alas the size of the conference and the pressures of time mitigate against it.

This combines spectacularly with my second problem – the lack of ruthless drive – to make me quite unsuited to an academic career. Despite the fabled ivory towers and the infamous disconnect between ordinary folks and classicists it is increasingly clear that success in a university setting requires a great deal of experience, regular publication and a knack for collecting collaborative projects – all in all money generating potential. Learning for learning’s sake is a hobby and academia must be a career. In itself, although in danger of sacrificing integrity for cash, this does not need to be bad what it is not however is representative of me.
I do not have the awards under my belt from being externally funded through my PhD. I do not have the teaching experience enabled and encouraged by on site learning. Despite 5ish years of research I do not have a publication to my name and boast only 2 CA papers and 2 WIP papers. I have never helped organise a conference or seminar series; hell I have hardly even been to more than a handful. In short I have not prepared myself for a career where outputs and administration (not to mention teaching) form key roles.
I think I am ok with that. In that since taking time off ill it has been clear to me that the likelihood of my reaching the standards required for an academic career in a job market that is shrinking comparative to candidates are low and the chances of finding a job that didn’t expect me to grind myself to dust are lower still. It is still a jolt to realise that the obvious pathway is effectively cut off by lack of experience through the decisions I made (and don’t regret) to, for example, keep working and live with my wife and to acknowledge that despite my internal passion for knowledge I haven’t a gift for dissemination but not a surprise to see that it is not a path I am likely to tread.

So am I still a classicist if I am not in academia? Will I ever finish my PhD? Is there research after completion? Can I fulfil my publishing dreams before distance from the sphere renders me obsolete? And more importantly will I be able to cope without access to current journals online?

Practicing Prioritising

This week has been mostly about juggling.
The ususal timetable that makes sure my boy and girl both get some special time with me, that I get some alone time, research is done and both houses get cleaned went out the window from the beginning. It turned out that the B had to work away from home for a couple of days and W has gone to a conference – luckily for me these happen to have fallen at opposite ends of the week so I don’t have to spend evenings alone. Generally this would be manageable but I also needed to visit my cousin and this weekend is all about the friends coming down to give the pub that made us family a send-off. Plus next week I am taking the boy away for his birthday and then its Easter and then its that conference I haven’t written a paper for.  – is this the biggest challenge of having two lovers, making enough time for everybody?

So now I need to decide what has to be done before I head to work tonight (bearing in mind it will be my last chance to do anything useful til…sunday evening at best).
Tidy rooms for people to sleep in (think the one in my wife and I’s house is nearly there – but B’s is still a bit of a bombsite); do laundry to take away; finish conference slides; get the chapter I’m working on to where I’m ready to send it to my 2nd supervisor (which I am determined to do before I head off next week) and try to think of all the things I have forgotten. [this is before I try to work out what I need to do next say write the paper, prepare a shopping list and pack 2 sets of bags..]

What do you do when you are faced with everything happening at once?
Procrastinate by writing a blog post?

Conference Paper

The abstract I submitted in August has been accepted – I shall be going to the ball (funds permitting).

The abstract has been accepted.. that means I have to write a 20min conference paper!

Sooo, is writing the conference paper going to improve the chapter I am working on, like I thought it would when I wrote the abstract or is it a time-wasting exercise?

Knuckling Down

So holidays are over and its time to work again.

I am currently, as per The Plan, focusing on Chapter 4 of my thesis with absent-minded forays back to chapters 2 & 3 as the inspiration takes me (or leaves me regarding #4). It feels good to have stuff down on paper but I am struggling to formulate my theoretical points. I thought that I knew the points I wanted to make but they seem very ‘thin’ when I actually put them down so I may resort to putting them on the internet in a hope it will inspire.

  •  An increase in a positive sense of Cornish identity coincides with an increased use of classical history in Cornish historical narrative
  • That the industrialisation of the Cornish economy particularly encouraged a Classicising trend which was later reduced by a Celtic sensibility.
  • There is a heirarchy of classical historians to be used when structuring such a narrative – and further that there is a preference for quotation/translation according to ranking of the historian

Meanwhile, however, I am going to Glasgow for a Conference on Diodorus next week which should be a good chance for me to actually spend time with classicists outside my department as well as hearing some new research rather than catching up with it vaguely in weeks or months time. I am very nervous as I haven’t been around many scholars since I took my interruption and I feel intellectually fragile; also going places on my own is pretty frightening.


In other news the pub is going to be opening early for the rugby world cup. Early morning drinking?! Could be interesting/tiring.